Putin let­ter asks Trump to help fix bi­lat­eral re­la­tions

Calls Democrats sore losers

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DINAN AND AN­DREW BLAKE

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has asked to “re­store the frame­work of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion” with the U.S. in a let­ter to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump — a note the transition team re­leased Fri­day, the same day the Krem­lin leader called the Demo­cratic Party a sore loser.

The let­ter, writ­ten ear­lier this month, of­fers Christ­mas and New Year’s wishes. Mr. Putin then sug­gests that the two na­tions find a way to get be­yond the log­ger­heads of the past few years.

“I hope that af­ter you as­sume the po­si­tion of the Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica we will be able — by act­ing in a con­struc­tive and prag­matic man­ner — to take real steps to re­store the frame­work of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in dif­fer­ent ar­eas as well as bring our level of col­lab­o­ra­tion on the in­ter­na­tional scene to a qual­i­ta­tively new level,” Mr. Putin said.

Mr. Trump, in a state­ment, called it “a very nice let­ter” and said “his thoughts are so cor­rect.”

“I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an al­ter­nate path,” he said.

Dur­ing the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign, Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump had pos­i­tive things to say about each other’s lead­er­ship style.

Democrats and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion have ac­cused Mr. Putin of med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion to try to sink Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, who as sec­re­tary of state tried but failed to earn bet­ter re­la­tions with Russia.

But an­swer­ing ques­tions Fri­day from a group of jour­nal­ists as­sem­bled for his an­nual end-of-year press con­fer­ence, Mr. Putin said Democrats were wrong to blame “out­side fac­tors” for Mrs. Clin­ton’s loss.

Democrats “are los­ing on all fronts and look­ing for scape­goats on whom to lay the blame,” Mr. Putin told re­porters, as trans­lated by the Krem­lin.

“I think that this is an af­front to their own dig­nity. It is im­por­tant to know how to lose grace­fully,” he said.

Asked specif­i­cally to com­ment on ac­cu­sa­tions that Russia used state-spon­sored hack­ing to in­flu­ence re­sults of the elec­tion, Mr. Putin de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity be­fore not­ing that ar­gu­ments about “who did it” are less im­por­tant than what the hacked emails showed.

“These days, it is very easy to des­ig­nate a ran­dom coun­try as the source of at­tack while be­ing in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion,” Mr. Putin said of the hack­ers. “But is this im­por­tant? I think the most im­por­tant thing is the in­for­ma­tion that the hack­ers re­vealed to the pub­lic,” he said.

He also said the res­ig­na­tion of Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­woman Deb­bie Wasser­man-Schultz over the in­for­ma­tion vin­di­cates its au­then­tic­ity.

“What is the best proof that the hack­ers un­cov­ered truth­ful in­for­ma­tion? The proof is that af­ter the hack­ers demon­strated how pub­lic opin­ion had been ma­nip­u­lated within the Demo­cratic Party, against one can­di­date rather than the other, against can­di­date [Bernard] San­ders, the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­per­son re­signed. This means she ad­mit­ted that the hack­ers re­vealed the truth,” Mr. Putin said.

Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts be­lieve state-spon­sored hack­ers pen­e­trated the DNC and the email ac­counts of Mrs. Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign man­ager, John Podesta, be­fore pass­ing along their con­tents to Wik­iLeaks for pub­li­ca­tion be­fore the Nov. 8 elec­tion. Pres­i­dent Obama said last week that he has “great con­fi­dence” in in­tel­li­gence re­ports that links those hacks and oth­ers to Rus­sian ac­tors and that their ac­tions were aimed at hav­ing Mr. Trump win the White House race.

“This hap­pened at the high­est lev­els of the Rus­sian government,” Mr. Obama said last week. “Not much hap­pens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.”

A day ear­lier, CrowdStrike, a se­cu­rity firm hired to ex­am­ine the DNC breach, said the per­pe­tra­tors used a spe­cific strain of mal­ware used ex­clu­sively for nearly a decade in cy­ber­at­tacks at­trib­uted to Russia, in­clud­ing a pre­vi­ously undis­closed hack­ing cam­paign in re­cent months against the Ukrainian mil­i­tary.

The let­ter was re­leased and the Moscow news con­fer­ence was held a day af­ter Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump sug­gested that they might push to ex­pand their coun­tries’ nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Putin

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